Currently Browsing: Civil Liberties

This, 1000x This!

Tam’s reaction to the dodge that NSA domestic snooping is just peachy because Bush did it too:

This is exactly the kind of crap that had civil libertarians so disgusted with the previous administration that they decided to give Team Donk a chance, and look what they got in exchange: A bad punchline of an Executive branch. “They told me if I voted for McCain that secret intel organizations would Hoover up all the phone records of every American, and they were right!” Har-de-har-har. It was funny the first thirty-seven times.

And what’s the Mainstream Media doing? Hiding smoking guns like a lovestruck teenager for her gangster boyfriend. If you guys were manning the bridge in ’73, you’d be doing special investigative reports on why security guards should mind their own business when they see a taped door lock. It could be taped for national security reasons! And George Bush taped locks, too!

It always annoys me greatly when people bring up the “Bush did it!” excuse, like that’s some kind of “Get out of Jail Free” card they can play — like everyone else is the same kind of partisan hack as people who assert this defense seem to be. Well, you know, I thought Bush was an asshole too, so what’s your point? In fact, given Bush’s approval ratings at the end of his second term, I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this sentiment.

Tuesday News Dump

The gun rights news cycle is getting a little dry, so this news dump will have a few off-topic links.

The Reason-Rupe poll: Congress should cut spending and forget gun control.

The people still don’t approve of Obama’s handling of the gun issue. But gun control is a winner!

Anti-gun groups blowing money to praise O’Malley. Yes. Let us make sure everyone knows he’s a gun control supporter. That ought to help destroy any Presidential ambitions he might have. Also, in Illinois, anti-gun groups are running deceptive ads by showing an M4 firing on full-auto.

But hubris got to them and decided to ignore a basic principle of living and politics in the USA: Leave Gun Owners Alone.” That pretty much sums up the first half of 2013.

The gun control crowd is still applying pressure to swing state Senators. Kelly Ayotte is fighting back.

PA lawmaker wants gun database dismantled. This has taken way too long to fix, and I doubt it’ll happen this session, but I’m glad it’s not being completely forgotten about.

Florida Carry is filing some lawsuits.

Mother Jones discovers building your own gun is legal. The horror! Except there’s some question that the bullet button device on the AK wouldn’t comply with California law because it’s placed too far back, which would allow the magazine to still be detached without the use of a tool. I’m not an expert on this, but I wonder if any of the irony strikes him.

Off topic, but interesting: an Illinois school teacher is in hot water because he taught students about their right against self-incrimination, protected under the 5th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Well, when it comes to the War on Drugs, we can’t be having any of these constitutional rights, now can we? We definitely can’t have the little tykes asserting they have rights that trump the authority of school administrators either.

Government v3.0. One of Kevin’s trademark Überposts.

Instapundit on the proposed media “Shield Law”: “We need protections for journalism, not journalists.

House to House Searching, Not Just Boston Anymore

Police in Nashville have noticed the tactics of the Boston PD and emulated them. Apparently much more quickly than anyone would have anticipated. I thought it was amusing people accusing SayUncle of being anti-cop, given that I don’t think he hates his dad.

I don’t think being wary of civil liberties violating tactics makes one anti-cop. I’m willing to give the police pretty wide berth to apprehend (or kill) violent subjects, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to at least pretend to respect the civil liberties of the people you’re sworn to protect, and to actually be able to hit what you’re aiming at.

We are supposed to be a nation of laws, and it seems more and more apparent we’re a nation of bureaucrats and enforcers, who believe the law to be optional, or at least pliable. Perhaps what’s even more disturbing is a population who seems to have no issue with this state of affairs, as long as it’s not their goose being cooked, and there’s some vague and comforting idea of being made safe.

UPDATE: On the opposite side of the coin, a lot of College Professors don’t live in the real world (not any real surprise, I suppose). If the cops in and around Boston had turned the bombers into swiss cheese in the shootout, I would want to give them a high five. It’s what was done to everyone else who wasn’t the bombers I have a hard time with.

A Constitution? Who Needs It?

Bloomberg thinks we’re going to have to change what we think of the Constitution after Boston. I think right now the Constitution is more important than ever.

“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”

Our greater level of security that we had back in the “olden days,” is due to the fact that it was a society where people looked out after each other and their own. Today, especially in places like Boston and New York, citizens expect the government to do everything for them, and the more government does, the less it does anything particularly well. Even Boston is illustrative of the utter failure of government. It wasn’t until the lockdown was lifted that an observant citizen decided to take a look in his boat, and sure enough… terrorist in his boat. Again, just like 9/11, it was citizens that caught him, even with all the Forth Amendment violations the police were using. Police work better with an engaged citizenry than a bunch of passive sheep.

What if instead of doing house to house searches they asked everyone to go and inspect their yards, sheds, and yes, boats (as I think most of us would have wanted to do if this had been going on in our neighborhood)? Well, we can’t have that. Someone might get hurt. But having the King’s men spraying bullets all over a suburban neighborhood and pointing guns at the good citizenry while they go door to door searching? Well, you can trust us, we’re professionals, from the government, and here to help.

No Warrant, No Entry

If this video represents how the Watertown “voluntary” searches were conducted at all, then I seriously wonder how the officers would have reacted to this doormat.

Now this may be the nutty libertarian in me, but being met at the door by SWAT teams with guns pointed at you and orders barked to keep your hands up no matter what isn’t what I call a “request” to search your home on a “voluntary” basis. Nor is it just checking the premises to have multiple officers patting down innocent people as they exit said house to screams for them to keep their hands up and to run down the street for further body searches.

I sincerely hope that some government official somewhere is so ashamed of this video that they end up releasing some kind of evidence that there was specific probable cause for this house to be searched in this manner. However, the pessimist in me doubts that will be the case. The video makes it appear as though the only cause for such a response was the delayed answer to non-stop door knocks.

If there was no reasonable suspicion that the suspect had specifically entered this property, I sincerely hope that those people find themselves a damn good lawyer quickly.

The Media Didn’t Learn a Thing after Boston

You’d think after so much public derision over their terrible job reporting on the Boston bombing situation, the media would think it wise to step back and consider how they report on breaking events and whether they are contributing to a sense of panic by printing and announcing every rumor they hear. I think it is safe to say that the Philly media definitely didn’t learn anything.

Here’s what I can tell you about a story that has apparently been unfolding since 9:00am today at the Independence Visitor Center in downtown Philly.

The local paper says that the Center was closed down because of a bomb threat in their headline. When you read the article, you find out that there was no actual threat just a perception that a guy who looked funny because he wore a camo coat on a cold day had some clothes and junk in his car may have possibly been a threat that involved a bomb.

A local tv station reports nothing about concerns about a bomb, but that SWAT teams were on the scene because the guy in the camo coat may have also had his face painted. There’s no mention of clothes or junk in his car, just that police shut down the main parking garage in the area in order to search every corner for anything suspicious before giving an all clear.

So the only clear facts that appear to be consistent are that a guy was wearing a coat on a cold day, the coat was apparently in a camouflage pattern, he had a car parked in a parking garage, and that the Philly police felt the best response was to shut down a major landmark and the parking garage because of this man wearing a coat on a cold day. Oh, and they also agree that he was hauled off in handcuffs, but officials are unwilling to say why he was detained.

At this point, even if there is a reasonable explanation for the police response, the reporting by at least one of these outlets–if not both–is irresponsible and clearly geared toward promoting fear in order to draw eyeballs. That’s why neither story is getting a link at the moment. Neither one deserves to be rewarded for reporting that appears to be, under the most generous descriptions, sloppy at best.

UPDATE: Another report actually relies on on-the-record statements from the police. Can you imagine the insanity behind such caution and restraint?

So far, the facts appear to be that a man was wearing camo (no mention of face paint) and that he had a car that was dirty. This alone was enough for police to determine that he should be taken into custody even though they admit that the K9 unit and bomb squad found absolutely nothing in his car but junk. Now this might be my crazy libertarian side coming out, but last time I checked, possession of shitty fashion sense and dirty cars isn’t actually a crime.

Is there no one else disturbed by the apparent extreme police state on display here? Are urban dwellers that content to give up their civil liberties?

Connecticut Gun Shops Swarmed

Apparently, gun owners are swarming gun shops today ahead of votes in the Connecticut legislature.

Dear gun shop owners, you know what would be very handy to do today for every customer who isn’t at the Capitol? The phone suggestion here in this post – have those customers who aren’t lobbying in person fill their voicemail boxes while the staffers deal with constituents in person.

Some Thoughts on Guns and Abortion

SayUncle seems to be warming up to Rand Paul, but isn’t happy about Rand Paul going against abortion rights. I am generally in Uncle’s camp on this particular issue, but I understand why the issue is so contentious, and why people are passionate about it. I don’t pretend to have any real moral insights into where life begins, and therefore where the rights of the mother need to yield. I think philosophically, it’s an issue that is far more difficult than many people who have strong opinions on it imagine it to be. At the end of the day, what has made me fall on the abortion rights side of the spectrum is that I can’t abide by the fact that enforcing an abortion ban would entail roughly the same kind of tactics we’re seeing right now with SAFE. This may not be a popular notion in today’s political climate, but I tend to think if you’re going to make certain behaviors serious crimes, they should generally be behaviors that pretty much everyone who isn’t criminally anti-social can agree ought to be crimes.

It’s with that I want to start in on a comment, and follow-up, that appeared yesterday by Peter Hamm, who used to work in the gun control issue, but has since moved on. Peter has always been a strong adversary, and a decent person, so I think his point is worth addressing in a post:

So, to clarify, gang, when you say enforce the laws on the books, you mean the laws on the books that pass muster with a broad cross-section of then gun rights community.

I respect you, and try not to ever treat you disrespectfully, but do we all get to choose the laws that we find acceptable, and disregard the rest? I for one am aware of many laws, such as the federal income tax laws, that I would rather opt out of, but have always thought that doing so wasn’t an option.

Consider this, for example. If one of these town officials says he won’t enforce a new gun law, you applaud him. What would you have thought if the National Park Service had said it wouldn’t allow concealed, despite the rider on the credit card reform bill?

We’re Americans. If we don’t like a law we’re free to fight for its repeal. We’re not free to disregard it. That gets liens put on your house, social services putting your kids in protective custody, stuff like that.

I think this can be a good starting point for a discussion on both the left and the right to develop a bit of understanding. That’s why this post started with the topic of abortion, because it is another very contentious moral and social issue that we argue very passionately about.

If abortion were generally made illegal, or very close to illegal in a state, would folks on who are passionate about abortion rights believe that women who smuggled abortion pills into the state ought to be subject to felony penalties and thrown in jail? Should they just obey the law, and stick to lobbying for repeal? What if the law makes traveling out of state for an abortion a felony? Is the woman who drives a friend worth throwing in prison for 10 years? If the state did an ad campaign targeting women’s magazines and television, telling other women to report if a friend or neighbor had an illegal abortion, with rewards offered for arrests, would you be outraged? What about doctors who refuse to obey the laws and decide carrying out safe abortions in medically sound conditions is better than women resorting to back alley abortionists and coat hangers? What about a woman who gets a botched abortion, gets a bad infection, and seeks legitimate medical treatment? Should she face a felony rap, and be forced to choose between sterility, and possibly death, or a lengthy prison sentence?

For those who are against abortion, this is what enforcement would mean. Sound familiar? Even if we disagree with each other’s moral compass on life’s starting point, you’re still dealing with fundamental issues of personhood, and those are always the kinds of topics we’re going to have the worst arguments over in America. Slavery was an issue of personhood, and we fought a bloody civil war over that.

Likewise, the gun rights debate is actually not about guns, but is rather a personhood debate, derived from the fairly common and historically pervasive American notion that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right of citizenship and personhood. The right to defend one’s home, one’s life, and one’s liberty is deeply rooted in our sense of personal autonomy, self-reliance, and in our relationship with those who govern us, or who would claim to govern us. It is just as much about a right to our own corporal integrity and dignity as it is to many who support abortion rights.

Recognizing Cultural & Political Shifts

I think it’s important to learn from a cultural shift that’s happening on an issue that’s both personal and political. It’s also one that has the potential to deeply divide a political party with one side believing that accepting a perceived “new” right will undermine everything they hold dear about their political ideology while others in the party are more open-minded to the change and even support it. One might assume that I’m talking about the issues of personal firearms ownership & self-defense and how they are viewed by Democrats outside of urban centers versus those in entrenched liberal areas. Actually, I think the issue I’m going to highlight is how the Democrats could view the cultural shifts on gun ownership through lessons the GOP should be learning on the issue of same-sex marriage.

If you follow any DC-based conservatives on Twitter at all, you’ve heard of CPAC. It has long been considered an event for conservatives to gather and talk about issues that make them identify as conservatives. For a few years, under the leadership of now-NRA president David Keene, CPAC allowed GOProud–a group of gay conservatives–to be co-sponsors and attend the event. After Keene left the helm of the group that puts on CPAC, they suddenly banned GOProud.

This year was no different in terms of a formal ban on the group, but another co-sponsoring organization was given the right to use a room to host their own panel. CEI opted to do an entire panel called “A Rainbow on the Right.” Photos show that the room was absolutely packed to the gills. Most of the folks in that photo are clearly young. They are the future of the movement. Meanwhile, CPAC officially hosted a panel with the National Organization for Marriage shortly before the Rainbow panel. The same link above compares the photos. That room was nearly empty. It featured rows and rows of empty seats.

Then, today, Senator Rob Portman officially came out in support of same-sex marriage. He notes that by supporting state decisions on marriage, and by ensuring that religious freedom is respected even while civil marriage rights are expanded, it’s an inherently conservative position on the side of limited government and individual freedom. It’s no secret here that both Sebastian and I support government recognition of same-sex marriages, so we both consider this really great news.

As I looked at the this debate this morning with the visible GOProud support, the lack of interest in the traditional marriage panel, and the op-ed that is likely sending many older folks on the right into a tizzy, I couldn’t help but see parallels in the left’s desperation to cling to gun control. For example, I was surfing the hashtags for the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit recently when I learned they were having a panel on gun control. During the panel and immediately after, the only tweets I saw at all from that panel all came from the official Summit account. Reading the tweets from actual activists during the session time period and immediately following, they were all focused on the student debt and right to work panels. In other words, they weren’t even in the room. There was not a single tweet during or immediately following the panel on gun control that came from a real activist even though there was an entire panel dedicated to the topic. That shows me that they have the same kind of enthusiasm gap on their side for the gun issue. And, like the gay marriage issue dividing some folks on the GOP side of the debate, the embrace of extreme gun control by party leaders from deep blue urban areas has cost members of their party from areas outside of those enclaves votes that cost elections. When Democratic Representative Dan Boren retired from Congress, he told the press that he didn’t feel the national party scene would allow him to continue to be “a local Democrat,…an Oklahoma Democrat.”

At some point, the “traditional” sides of each of these issues within each movement will need to accept the inevitable. Whether it’s gay rights or gun rights, many people are taking the attitude that if the decisions of another aren’t hurting them, they don’t feel the need to control it.

Gun Owning Parents Targeted

Apparently, one New York lawmaker is horrified that 11-year-olds might possibly see guns safely displayed and purchased by law-abiding citizens. So she wants to ban that.

She obviously believes that gun owners with kids cannot be trusted since they might possibly pass on that tradition of firearms ownership. To respond to this “threat” that gun ownership may still happen in the next generation, she’s trying to make introducing your children to safe and lawful use of firearms a crime one step at a time.

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